If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know I’ve been hanging out at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville as a participant of Blissdom ’11 this week. Blissdom is an annual blogging conference for women. It’s meant to inspire, encourage and its overall goal is to make its participants feel awesome. I kid you not, that is the goal. Did I leave there feeling inspired? Most certainly. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Feeling empowered: The founder, Allison Worthington, stressed that the goal of the conference is to “find your awesomeness.” I have to say, I do feel awesome. It’s hard to explain, but after one year of blogging which culminated in its one year anniversary with Blissdom, I feel empowered. I still have a lot to learn, but so does everyone else. That is a good thing to know.
Blogging has made me realize that as a mom, and as a woman, I am not alone in my efforts to change the course of my life. It was only one year ago to this very date that I started to blog here. One year to this date that I was depressed about feeling like I couldn’t achieve my goals. One year to this date that I finally realized that I did not need to just think about starting a blog, but I could do it. I saw the tweets about Blissdom 2010 and I said to myself that it sounded like a place for me. I promised that I would attend this event the following year.
Blissdom spoke to me on the same level as everyone else who was present. There may have been far more experienced bloggers there, and they do let you know in a very direct way when you meet them (“I’ve been blogging since 2002″ or “I’m a local celebrity” or “I’m here on behalf of this brand.”). You can start to feel tiny if you let yourself, and I admit to feeling like a pea at times, particularly the first day. There is an odd sense of competition amongst bloggers. but I try not to engage in it. Me? I’ll share information about anything that comes my way in the blogosphere, but I am very much a newbie. I acknowledge that there are plenty of more experienced bloggers out there, but there are also plenty just getting started and that’s okay. Blogging has given so many women a chance to find their voice and has provided amazing opportunities. Blissdom communicated that very message. The organizers want everyone to leave the conference feeling like we, whether old timers or newbies, can do anything we set out to do.
However, I do know one blogger who came away from the conference quite disillusioned with the prospect of making money from her blog after hearing how hard it is to do, but I heard the opposite somehow: that is not impossible. It depends what your goals are and your approach, as well as how much time you have to dedicate to blogging.
2. Experiencing Brene Brown: Brene Brown, author of the book The Gifts of Imperfection, kicked off the conference with a powerful keynote that I will remember for some time to come. She talked about the power of going big and revealed that in order to understand ourselves and what we are trying to accomplish in the world of social media, we need to understand what gets in our way. She talked about shame and vulnerability as key to loving with our own hearts. The stories we write bring down shame, and vulnerability is key to loving with our hearts. She talked about being able to write from the heart, telling our stories, as well as getting paid what we’re worth. Social media comes down to courage, and we have to be brave to tell our stories. She spoke to me on so many levels and her words had an impact on my own personal and social media goals. She asked, “Are you enough?” Think about it. Your story matters and so does mine. She made me realize it. As a blogger, it’s important to let go of your fears and dive in. If you care what people think, you are in the wrong place. In addition to Brown’s social media expertise (she’s a researcher), her presence had a big impact on me. She is a LMSW, I am studying for my MSW. I can’t wait to dive into her book shown below.
“Connection is what gives our life meaning and purpose.” “Vulnerability is the key to loving and living with our whole hearts.” “Choose discomfort over resentment.” “When you say you don’t care what people think and you mean it, you have lost the capacity to connect.” “Our stories matter because we matter.” “Find and be a friend that would move a body.”
“You are responsible for the energy you bring into this room.” At the end of her amazing speech, she said, “We get courage by couraging.”
3. Spreading the awesome: Social media is alive and here to stay, and according to Alli Worthington, it’s all about us. If we don’t take risks, we’ll never learn. I want to take more risks. Many of Blissdom’s workshops gave me much food for thought. I arrived early so I could do what they call a day of “Wisdom Workshops” before the larger crowd arrived, which I’m very glad I did. I went to workshops on Branding with Maya Bisineer and Alli Worthington, SEO & Analytics with Angela England, Melanie Nelson and the brilliant Shelly Kramer, Marketing & Media Training with Renee Ross, Cassie Boorn, Allison McDonald and Melanie Nelson. Some workshops were more beneficial than others, but I have so much to learn, there was always something to be taken out of each session. My problem was that I always felt that perhaps I should be in another session, learning something else about something else I didn’t know (I’m like that on a lot of things in life). That’s why I like reading the session wrap-ups that I didn’t attend at Scraps of My Geek Life. The most useful session for me personally was SEO. Basically, any blogger who isn’t using SEO needs to get a move on, either by hiring someone to help with it or doing it themselves.
During Blissdom itself, which was two full days of workshops, I heard the infamous Scott Stratton of Unmarketing. He is the god of social marketing and quite hilarious. His presentations were priceless. He said that “Awesome goes viral” and “Spread the awesome.” He noted how if you have nothing awesome to say, don’t post. I really valued that statement. I went to workshops on Monetization, Social Good and Collaboration & Curation. I found out that I do actually know more than I thought I did, but I also have some work to do. Tons, actually. But so does everyone else, even more experienced bloggers felt the same way. I’m not alone.
4. Connections: I met the most amazing women. Blogging has completely opened up my world and has introduced me to so many women that I am seriously privileged to know, from all different parts of the country. Blissdom brings together women who really want to be there, and be with each other. At first, I was quite overwhelmed and felt like an introvert. I was never good in big crowds in high school. I’m no longer completely that way inclined, but I am still better in smaller groups. Slowly and surely, and soon enough, I started to recognize so many of my personal favorite bloggers: CecilyK, StacieInAtlanta, Anissa Mayhew, Her Bad Mother, Meagan Francis, PHD in Parenting, Kim Moldofsky, Mommy Niri, Selfish Mom, LoveThatMax, Julie Cole from Mabel’s Labels and so many others. Not only are these women my heroes, but they are the nicest people in the world..and the most fun to hang out with. Then I cnnected with Mommy Shorts and NYCSingleMom, two fellow NYC bloggers. Before I knew it, I was ready to meet everyone. Unfortunately, that was on day #3, my last day! Nonetheless, I managed to meet some wonderful women. Loved the feeling of power I got from being at an all women’s conference.
5. Bliss Mitzvah: My roommate, Laura from ChambanaMoms, held a Bliss Mitzvah – seriously. There were about a dozen of us Jewish women from all over the country – yes, Blisdom’s Jewish contingency. When I met this group of amazing women, it was like coming home. I live in New York, where meeting Jewish people is not difficult, as you know, but it was refreshing and kind of joyous to meet other Jewish women who blog from around the country. Blissdom is all about the story, and each woman I met had an amazing one to tell. We sat around late one night and talked about the history behind our names, our heritage, our children, our parenting styles. It was like meeting up with old friends and I have a feeling our meeting will be an annual ritual for years to come at Blissdom. Laura and Sara, our fearless leaders, secured relationships with amazing brands such as Jdeal, Twittabling and TCHO Chocoate, and we even received Jewish swag when we left.
Of course, I also enjoyed staying at the famous Opryland Hotel. I’ll be posting about that experience in a few days. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a trip by myself without the family, and I have to admit that I felt a sense of absolute, pure joy to have a few days to myself, immersed in a world I have embraced and will continue to for some time.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this review nor did I receive anything in exchange for it. All opinions expressed are my own.